Our electoral process can be daunting to understand, no matter your age or intelligence level. In fact, a recent poll showed that most people don’t understand it well at all…many thought the electoral college was an actual school of some type! Yikes!
Enter The Presidential Game.
Our family has been enjoying this fun, educational board game for the last several weeks, and I think we’ve all – not just the kids – gained perspective on how our presidential elections work and how and why candidates come up with different campaigning and fundraising strategies.
To play, two teams are formed: the Republicans and the Democrats (surprise, surprise!), and the length of the campaign is set. Each round is equivalent to one week of campaigning, and a 30 “week” game should take about an hour according to the instructions, but your mileage may vary. We played shorter games at first until we got the hang of things.
The object of the game is, of course, to win the election.
The game board itself is an electoral college map. Each team is given a pile of tokens that represent votes. On each turn, each team decides whether to campaign or fundraise, and announces which three states they will campaign in, or which one state they will fundraise in for that turn. Fundraising is only allowed in four states: California, New York, Texas, and Florida. The three dice are rolled. If campaigning, they allocate votes from one die to each state and add the appropriate number of tokens to the board. If fundraising, half the votes must go to the fundraising state and the rest can be allocated to any other states of their choice.
A score card is kept to tally the electoral votes gained and lost in each turn. Alternatively, the game comes with an access code to an interactive electoral WebMap that updates in real time as you input the results of each turn. Pretty cool!
Another fun element is the politics cards. Each time a team fundraises, they earn a card. It can be played when drawn or saved for a later turn (some cards are labeled “Play Immediately”).
Most of these are beneficial, with instructions like:
“You are considered to be stronger than your opponent on fighting terrorism. Add 5 votes to any one state.”
“Your opponent was overheard telling the Governor of Florida that he/she was find with illegal immigrants voting for him/her if they could get away with it. Add 3 votes to Florida and 2 votes to Texas.”
A few aren’t, for example:
“A popular independent candidate suddenly announces his/her intention to run. Remove 4 of your vote and remove 4 of your opponent’s votes from any states of your choice. *Play immediately.”
The suggested age for the game is 11 and up, and I think that’s an accurate assessment. The Dancer (15) and Karate Kid (12) have played each other or a parent, and several times we’ve allowed the little guys to be on a “team” and “help” us play, even though the game is too challenging for them.
For the first game or two, we were confused and not sure what we were doing. But we got the hang of things pretty quickly and have had a blast since then! In the beginning, the kids would just choose which states to campaign/fundraise in randomly, but after a few rounds they began to catch on and strategize. As we’ve played, it’s become very clear to them why candidates spend so much time and money in certain states. They especially enjoy “stealing” a state from their opponent (sibling)! 😉
I’ve understood in theory how the electoral college works since high school, and have been over it with my older kids during the last couple of presidential elections. We’ve always used a poster or printable maps to color in each state as it’s called on election night, which is a great visual tool. But seeing the process “in action” on the game board really gives a whole new level of understanding and perspective to the whole process.
The bottom line?
We’re loving The Presidential Game and highly recommend it! It’s a fun, painless way to learn more about our country’s electoral process!
On the agenda soon: parents versus kids face-off! 🙂
The Presidential Game is available for $35.00.